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New Bedford to Adopt Police 'Use of Force' Recommendations

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said this month he will adopt the recommendations of the 20-member Commission on Police Use of Force Policies.


The group met weekly for six months and held public hearings. Its recommendations include giving police officers additional de-escalation training and creating a duty for officers to intervene if a fellow officer uses excessive force.


Brian Gomes, a city councilor who chaired the commission, said the community can feel confident that police will treat them with respect.


“Policing is a very tough job right now, and I don't think you make everyone happy,” he said. “But if you can put a good cop on the street out there, educated, knowing the situations that may arise — and they’re very trained to that — you will see a good police officer.”


He also said respect goes both ways.


“I'm one of the first to stand up when I think something is wrong,” he said. “And I’ll also be the first to stand up to protect the Police Department when I feel they are unjustly being attacked. And it's happened on several occasions in this city.”


The commission also endorsed the idea of an independent review board and body cameras. But those were outside the authority of the commission as set out by the mayor, and not part of what he pledged to adopt.


Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro has previously said he supports body cameras.


Critics contend the city needs an independent body that can review specific cases, such as the death of 15-year-old Malcolm Gracia in 2012.


Gomes said residents already have places to report allegations of civil rights violations, including the city’s Human Relations Commission.